One organisation which has been corporatized has been Watercare in Auckland. This giant CCO has its own Board and massively paid senior staff. In my opinion this is precisely what a number of people pushing for the reforms in water have in mind. High paid jobs and away from elected Councillors and accountability.
The really interesting thing is that in the Newsroom article below it is demonstrated that the issue in Auckland is that the expansion and demand for infrastructure is so great Watercare cannot afford to meet this demand. This highlights that the drive to move water outside Local Government is driven by money. Making it a stand-alone entity actually didn’t change anything. As a CCO it has the same constraints as it would if it was still a Department within Greater Auckland Council.
The “performance” of Watercare must surely make the Government wonder whether or not its proposed reforms are really based on good public policy or are just a desire by a lobby group, WaterNZ, to gain a whole new structure which makes little sense. The first issue is investment in infrastructure. The second issue is how to deliver this better. It may just need restructuring of Local Government accountability. That might be the cheapest route to follow.
I have had some really good feedback on water and how it is managed. I continue to feel that the Government has been completely, and dangerously, led astray by WaterNZ lobbying within Government Departments. This organisation has been promoting the need for us to head in the direction of Scottish water
Here’s one feedback I received:
I’ve been concerned for some time over water and WaterNZ especially. They simply want control and eventual income. I know it may be hard for some lower income families but we need to get serious over water conservation.
Charging for excess water use at least makes people think (when we moved here 54 years ago we had an excess water bill: we had a basic amount on our rates, but were charged for use above that — it was a hot dry summer that year and we were establishing the section).
Key issues are the likely recharge of Chch’s water supply aquifers by nitrate contaminated water from intensive farming (e.g. dairying) north of the Waimak (which could make our water unusable), and sea level rise which will increase saltwater incursion into the aquifers, reducing the amount that we can take. Our “garden city” image is built on an ‘English garden’ look of lush lawns and flowering borders. Both are inappropriate for an increasingly dry and hot Canterbury (the long-term and probably irreversible trend). \
We need gardens designed for low water usage. If the CCC is serious about reducing water use they obviously need to do more than just charge for it: provide information and exemplars on how to garden with less water.
In Newsroom during last week there was this really well researched article on the current state of action on water issues right now: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/under-the-surface-of-our-ageing-water-infrastructure
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